Syrian forces kill 10 north of Damascus: activists

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 28, 2012 5:18 AM
Syrian forces kill 10 north of Damascus: activists

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian forces killed at least 10 people on Saturday in a village north of Damascus where army defectors had taken refuge, and in the coastal province of Latakia the army clashed with rebel fighters, activists said.

Activist Omar Hamza said the Damascus killings occurred after a group of soldiers defected and were pursued by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad into the village of Bakha north of the capital.

Four rebels and six civilians were killed, Hamza said. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also put the death toll at 10, but said they were all defectors.

The bloodshed was the latest incident to mar a two-week-old ceasefire agreement brokered by the United Nations, which is seeking a negotiated solution to the 13-month Syrian uprising, inspired by rebellions against authoritarian rule across the Arab world.

The United Nations says Syrian forces have killed 9,000 people since the start of the unrest. Syrian authorities blame foreign-backed militants for the violence and say 2,600 soldiers and police have been killed.

SANA, the official state news agency, said on Saturday a military unit had foiled a "terrorist attempt" to infiltrate the country from the Mediterranean, although it provided no further details.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday the Syrian government had not complied with commitments it made under the ceasefire plan, while Assad's government says rebels have flouted the deal.

In Latakia, the Observatory said soldiers and rebels were fighting in the village of Burj al-Salaam, close to the site of a presidential palace, but gave no further details.

Overnight, five members of the security forces were killed in an explosion targeting two vehicles between the towns of Moadamiya and Deraya in Damascus province, it added.

(reporting by Dominic Evans)